Looking back at 2020, it’s hard to pinpoint any other moment in time where TV and movies have played such a pivotal role in our daily lives. Deprived of face time and close contact with each other, we’ve instead turned to our screens for company. Almost overnight, Marianne and Connell from Normal People seemed as real as my own friends, accessible only through Zoom calls, or underneath the layers of their masks. Lunch with Princess Diana and Camilla Parker Bowles? Don’t mind if I do. Moscow mule cocktail hour with newly-crowned chess prodigy Beth Harmon? Da darling. A tense but glamorous dinner with Jude Law and Carrie Coon from The Nest? Sharpening the knives as we speak.
Ironically, even as ours were being covered up, this year also brought us a lot of new faces to watch: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, handpicked by Mindy Kaling from a group of 15,000 auditioners, guided us through the rocky terrain of being a first-generation Indian immigrant teen in Never Have I Ever; Talia Ryder made us miss our rebellious, fiercely loyal cousins in Never Rarely Sometimes Always; Ariana DeBose sang her way to a new kind of prom in Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of the Broadway hit — I could go on and on. While A-list staples like Glenn Close, Amy Adams, and Nicole Kidman were overdoing it in would-be Oscar contenders and Big Little Lies 2.0, a new generation of performers and future stars helped make this one of the most interesting years for women in movies and TV.
The future of Hollywood is shaky right now. Major studios are doubling down on streaming while theaters remain closed, or virtually empty. Release dates that seemed realistic when they were pushed back in April and May are now creeping closer, with infection levels making traditional theatrical runs unlikely. Awards shows will take place not in the early days of the year, as normal, but in the spring. Still, with these 20 up-and-coming performers in the mix, the future's looking bright.